King Cobra (Review)

King Cobra

Pat Morita as Nick Hashimoto
Scott Hillenbrand as Dr. Brad Kagen
Casey Fallo as Jo Biddle
Hoyt Axton as Mayor Ed Biddle
Joseph Ruskin as Dr. Irwin Burns

Hey, it’s another movie that imitates Jaws, except this time they have a giant cobra instead of a giant shark! Great, the world needs more movies that are carbon copies of Jaws. The novelty of this film is the giant snake, he’s not a bad CGI giant snake, he’s a bad animatronic giant snake! So instead of characters looking three feet to the right of a badly drawn snake, now they are looking directly at a stationary snake. Joining the mechanical snake is Pat Morita, who is the headliner. He is the mystic snake handler/herpetologist Nick Hashimoto, who is the leading expert in venomous snakes. Wax on, wax off, wax cobra. No snake running around loose movie would be complete without some redneck hunters, authority figures who don’t believe the heroes, and heroes who save the day in the face of all danger. Throw in Hoyt Axton, Erik Estrada, and even Efren Ramirez and we’re good to go.

After a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes, we jump into a lab where scientists are hard at work doing science things being sciency. Except for once red-headed, puffy-haired scientist, who is in the bathroom shooting up. Why Carrot Top didn’t get this part, I shall never know. Normally, I would have guessed he was riding the H-train, or maybe even speed. However, later in the film, we see Pat Morita injecting himself with snake venom, and the lab is working on chemicals to increase aggressive behavior, so Carrot Top here could be injecting himself with any of that crap. Carrot Top starts acting like an idiot, so he’s probably got that aggressive junk flowing through his veins. The head of the lab is Dr. Irwin Burns, who I bring up only because he’ll be back later in the film (well, most of him will) and his daughter works there as well. Dr. Burns is called out of the room thanks to a computer which starts blaring “URGENT EMAIL ALERT!” That is the most annoying “You Got Mail!” derivative I’ve ever seen. Dr. Burns quickly heads out of the lab to check what exciting adventure awaits him in the land of cyberspace. Will it be Nigerian Princes? Penis Enlargers? Cheap Drugs? Low-rate mortgages? Ebay fraud? Another question the movie will never answer us. Once Dr. Burns leaves, Carrot Top locks the door, and he and a female scientist played by the lady who killed her own child to keep the bus she was on from getting shot at on the final episode of MASH set to work on a new experiment. Dr. Burns’s daughter is questioning what is going on, and Carrot Top starts his aggression-injection fueled rant on how Dr. Burns is a “Paranoid old wimpy geek” and “Science is about pushing boundaries.” He and Baby-killer add a bunch of chemicals to the mix, which soon sets off a vinegar/baking soda reaction. This soon turns into a real fire, which then causes a gigantic explosion that blows the locked security door off it’s hinges and almost into Dr. Burns. Dr. Burns enters the flaming room, sees Carrot Top and Baby Killer are dead, and finds his daughter, who is still alive, but has been bitten by a newly released cobra/rattlesnake hybrid named Seth, which quickly slithers off.

Did you get all that? Now, let’s analyze it. We got a red-headed lad who injects himself with aggression-fuel, who then decides to take over the lab and do some illicit experiments to make some serum mix. Dr. Burns’s daughter just sits there while she and her father are berated, showing she’s useless. Carrot Top talks with a lisp while he rants, which I don’t think is his real voice. So it’s confusing as to what the point is having him do so, and I’m thinking it’s so we don’t like the character. After all, all we know about him so far is he likes sticking needles and chemicals into his bloodstream, and he’s working hard. Obviously, this character would have been a real go-getter. The type of guy who would do whatever he wanted and let no one stand in his way. A Neo-con, basically. So he had to go, thanks to magically exploding snake venom. I’m no herpetologist, but snake venom is not explosive in the slightest. There is also no reason why the lab should have explosive items all over it, as they should all be located in the flammable liquids cabinet. Dr. Burns must have been cruising for a fat fine from Environmental Health and Sciences at his University. The star of our picture also makes his debut, the cobra/rattler Seth. His first action is to bite Dr. Burns’s daughter repeatedly, to punish her for being so useless. Seth then wanders off because that’s what snakes do. I am glad the movie is titled King Cobra and not Cobra-Rattler! or Cobrattler!, but I expect those movies to be produced by Sci-Fi channel in the near future.

Back to the movie. It’s now TWO YEARS LATER! Why? Another answer that was swallowed by snakes before the movie began. The small town of something-or-other is about to get Cobraed. First victim: small annoying boy. Well, he doesn’t get killed, the movie isn’t hardcore enough for that, he just gets frightened into a state of shock. This movie should have went the extra step and had his mom find his bones in a pile of snakepoop. It’s only fair. Enough of the scared boy, Dr. Brad Kagen is looking over town Mayor Hoyt Axton, talking about how he’s leaving town to go to the city to be a specialists, leaving his dad alone at the Family Medical Practice. Dr. Brad Kagen, fascinatingly, is played by Scott Hillenbrand, who helped direct/write/produce this film. He also looks and sounds like a cross of Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap and the oldest brother from Blossom, Anthony Russo, played by Michael Stoyanov. The cop girlfriend who’s heart he is breaking by leaving town (and thus fueling the gossip-powered townswomen for the next few months) is named Jo Biddle. She looks sort of like Jennifer Garner from Alias meets Blossom from Blossom. Follow? Combine that with my disturbing memories of Blossom telling her best friend Six that her naked brothers looked like partially decorated Christmas Trees, and this film just became one of the most mind destroying horrors of all time.

We’re also introduced to some typical townspeople, three special needs hunters. Billy Bob, Bobby Bill, and Billy Bill-Bob Bill. That may not be their names, but it’s close enough. They’ll be dead soon enough, anyway. Before Dr. Brad can get out of town, he’s called to the scene of an accident. But it’s no accident, it’s a dead guy, who died from snake venom poisoning. Something large. Dr. Brad finds a hunk of broken tooth, and Deputy Token Black finds a snakeskin. A long snakeskin. Dr. Brad uses the internet (Hooray for the Internet!) to hunt down anti-venom to order in case more people are attacked, and then he prepares to get out of town. Dr. Burns is still alive, and he has some sort of alert out for towns ordering large amounts of anti-venom. Dr. Burns has also lost an eye, which may have been in the accident, or may be from an unrelated BB gun incident. Erik Estrada!!! What are you doing in this film? Being a giant gay stereotype? Radical! Way to argue with that German guy over beer. So the town is having a Big Beer Festival, which is why Mayor Hoyt Axton won’t close down the town to protect people from Cobra attacks.


Not many non-brewery based films can support a whole beer brewing montage. Like this one for instance. They have a town meeting where Dr. Brad’s dad returns from vacation to join the chorus of people who don’t want to shut the town down, with Mayor Hoyt. Officer Jo Biddle is of the opinion things should be shut down. The Festival is in a Biddle Park, which I though meant that the Park was named after the police lady’s family, but the credits say that Mayor Hoyt’s character’s last name is also Biddle, he’s supposed to be her father, thus the Biddles run the town with an iron thumb, it seems. Dr. Burns barges into the meeting to explain how he’s connected to this mess, eyepatch aglow with snake-hate.

We jump from that to…Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite! Yes, Efren Ramirez is here, with a hot babe, and their playing Underwear Hide and Go Seek, a fun game. You can’t imagine Pedro doing this, so it’s even more hilarious. Unfortunately for us, the King Cobra decides to Vote for Pedro as well, vote for him as dinner! PEDRO, NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Damn you, King Cobra! The girl went on to be in some episodes of Buffy I am told, but as I don’t watch that I have no clue who she is. She’s dead, too, so it doesn’t really matter here.

Dr. One-Eye Burns and Dr. Brad call in Pat Morita, snake expert, who has more snakebite scars on his body than Smiths in the Manhattan Telephone Directory. He seems to have been originally envisioned as a American Indian character, at least that is the impression I got. But Pat Morita’s name-grabbing goodness was too much of a draw to pass up, and he became the main snake-getter. I’ll be honest and say part of the reason I rented the DVD was Pat Morita listed on the cover. Too bad he doesn’t karate the cobra, but we should have at least had some fly catching by chopstick action. So disappointed. Morita doesn’t even do any of his standup. Morita will arrive too late to save Dr. Brad’s dad, the Sr. Dr. Kagen. He’s completely Cobra-chomped.

The Beer Festival arrives! People get drunk on German beer. By German the movie means Americans with German accents. Dr. Brad’s dad is discovered to have been killed, and the whole festival gets shut down. Finally, Mayor Hoyt Axton is doing something right. The Redneck Hunters from earlier gear up their weapons for some snake shooting, and Pat Morita arrives in town. Morita explains a few things about snakes, then they go to the woods to set up some razor wire traps. Wire on, wire off. Morita’s main snake-catching weapon is a big hook. Seriously big. Like he much catch giant snakes from bad horror movies constantly. No real snake is 1/5 the size big enough for that hook. But good ole Cobra Seth sure is, as we’ll see in a bit. First, the Redneck Hunters have to push the bodycount up higher. One, one dead hunter. Two, two dead hunters. Three, three dead hunters! ::Lighting Crash:: A-Ha-Ha-Ha!

Hey, let’s have some dead cops as well, shame since they’re pretty likable as far as characters go. But, now they are dinner. This snake sure is eating a lot of dinner. I guess as well as increased aggression he has increased appetite. Soon Seth the King Cobra will be Seth the Fat Cobra. Before the black cop dies, he complains that he “Almost lost my Love Jones!” after an attempted crotch-bite by the snake.

Back to Our Heroes: Pat Morita reveals he’s been bitten 167 times. Such sloppiness is not what you want in a snake handler. Pat Morita has been bitten enough, that his blood produces it’s own anti-venom. Yeah. So he regularly injects himself with Rattler Venom, as he’s doing right now. He’s injector number two, one injector let the snake out, and another is supposed to wring him in. They can’t get the snake to come, but they come up with an idea. Actually, they remember and idea from Jurassic Park, and use a goat as bait. To switch up the goat bait, there is a tube that they are going to stash the snake in, and then gas him. This explains the giant hooks Pat Morita has. The Cobra watches them set all this up, then sneaks out to get the goat. Dr. Burns runs out like a complete troglodyte and gets himself bit. Pat Morita jumps out to save the day, and hooks the cobra. He gets bit, and bit, and bit, and bit, and bit, and my Lord, the tube is far far far away from the goat bait. Why did they set it up so incompetently? Pat Morita gets bit enough that he slumps over, cobraed. Is he dead? Probably, though the movie doesn’t bother to tell us. I’m guessing the answer depended on if they got funding for a sequel, and if Morita would do it. Neither happened, so he’s dead dead dead. This leaves the remaining members in quite a quandary, as they are just Dr. Brad and his girl Jo Biddle. Jo empties her gun at the cobra, but to no avail. Dr. Brad does something heroic, and flying kicks the cobra! I guess he learned to wax on, wax off when we weren’t looking. He jumps into the tube with the cobra chasing him, then gets out fast enough to drive the tube into a tree to block it off. The gas is spent, and Seth the Cobra is Seth the future pair of boots.

The luring the snake into the tube of gas ending, how cliché! Actually, it sucks. I wish they went with something cliché. Instead, we get something stupid. Dr. Brad then dreams that he’s staying in town, and the snake attacks! But it’s a dream, and he wakes up. Except the snake also wakes up, because it was sleeping gas! The end!

The end? What? That ending is terrible. Okay, new interpretation of the ending. Dr. Brad was bitten by the Cobra during the final battle. His flying kick, as well as the luring of the snake into the tube, was all a venom-induced dream before he died. The entire ending was a dream, and it ended in a nightmare as the realization sank in that he was about to die. That’s what this movie deserves, an ending that would make Satan weep. Even better, let’s make this the dying dream of Pat Morita, and then have Jo and Dr. Brad die even more bloody deaths offscreen. The entire town dies, even the German Guy, Erik Estrada, and Mayor Hoyt Axton. Everyone is dead, except Seth the Cobra, who is then captured by Cobra Commander and Destro, and used in a new plot to destroy GI Joe. Those darn Joes, they ruin everything! COBRAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

Rated 4/10 (Snake!, CHiPs!, Montage!, Snakebite 1 of 167)

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!